JMMB launches programme for women entrepreneurs
Financial conglomerate JMMB Group through its SME Resource Centre has launched a six-month programme, ‘PowHerful Women in Business’, to support women-led and female-owned businesses operating in Jamaica and Trinidad.
The programme targets small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) earning revenues above $15 million per annum and in operation for at least a year for the first cohort.
“The PowHerful Women in Business initiative is designed to cater to the personal and business needs of female entrepreneurs and to address some of the unique challenges that they face by creating an enabling environment and a gender-sensitive financial framework that empowers women to access the support and financing they need to scale and grow their businesses,” stated Shani Duncan-Falconer, senior corporate manager for the JMMB Group SME Resource Centre.
“This programme will facilitate the formation and deepening of business networks that can be leveraged by these female entrepreneurs to assist in taking their businesses to the next level,” she added.
Duncan-Falconer, in explaining the genesis of the programme, said that it evolved out of a need to service gaps in the market surrounding the unavailability of products for women SMEs.
This following an International Labour Organization-led assessment of female entrepreneurship development that found significant gaps in the level of access to financing and other financial services available for women. In light of these findings, the study recommended the need to develop financial and business literacy programmes for women entrepreneurs in order to increase their eligibility for financial loans from traditional banking institutions.
A Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2021/22 report further outlined that while more women — approximately 51 per cent of them — were accounting for the majority of total early-stage entrepreneurial activity, most of their businesses remain unregistered and largely concentrated in the wholesale, retail and services sectors.
“JMMB Group stands as a testament of the possibilities for growth and the contribution that women-led businesses can have on the economy, having been co-founded by the late Joan Duncan, whose vision 30 years later has transformed a small investment house into a regional financial conglomerate. We are looking to replicate that success with our WSMEs,” Duncan-Falconer said.
CEO of JMMB Bank Jerome Smalling said that the programme, which comes in the wake of an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) agreement the bank signed in 2021, will see female businesses rightly positioned to take advantage of some 20 per cent of funds, or over US$7 million in loans, which the bank had committed to the support of female-led SMEs.
It further complements the group’s 2017 ‘Her Wealth’ initiative that was established to leverage the huge potential for growth of this market segment, catering to the unique financial needs of women while filling gaps in the financial sector.
Following the shortlisting of suitable candidates, these women-led SMEs are to undergo an intensive six-month programme consisting of coaching sessions covering a wide range of topics including marketing, personal branding, networking, strategic and business planning, accounting and financial management, among other key areas to drive business success. Additionally, they will have access to mentorship and support to create and update their businesses as well as marketing plans and financial statements.
Participants will also be able to take advantage of discounted services from a number of partners in the group’s ecosystem such as Transformational Life Solutions, Sisters Ink, Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, Bureau of Standards, and the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Jamaica.
“These business advisory support services are designed to better prepare female entrepreneurs to scale their business and access financing opportunities. Additionally, through the JMMB Group they will have access to financing at special rates, three months’ free rental of point-of-sale machines and special offering on other financial solutions across saving, retirement solutions and insurance,” Duncan-Falconer said.